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The People of God, Discipleship and Ministry in the Anglican Church Today and Tomorrow

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 September 2021

Abstract

People of God is a well-known biblical term used to describe and understand the inclusive, holistic and serving nature of the Christian Church. Currently, members of the worldwide Anglican Communion are discussing discipleship and ministry. This paper explores the deep connection between describing the church as the People of God and the practice of discipleship and ministry. That exploration occurs through an examination of the considerable literature on the topic, and by discussing discipleship and ministry in light of understanding the church as the People of God. Discoveries made from the journey may surprise. Suggestions for church practice emerged with implications for: ecclesial language; parish ministry and mission; the processes of Anglican Diocesan Synods; and potential outcomes for the 2022 Lambeth Conference.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust 2021

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Footnotes

1

The Reverend Dr John Littleton is a retired Anglican priest in the Diocese of Adelaide.

References

2 Anglican Diocese of Adelaide, Action Plan, 2. Available at: https://www.adelaideanglicans.com (accessed 24 August 2020).

3 John R.W. Stott, One People: Clergy and Laity in God’s Church (London: Falcon Books, repr. 1971 [1969]), pp. 38-42, 46-47; Gideon Goosen, Clericalism: Stories from the Pews – A Workbook for Parishes (Victoria, Australia: Coventry Press, 2020), pp. 118-21.

4 Anglican Consultative Council (ACC Zambia), ‘Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-Making – An Anglican Guide for Christian Life and Formation’ (London, 2016), p. 6. Available at: https://www.anglicancommunion.org/media/220191/intentional-discipleship-and-disciple-making.pdf (accessed 3 February 2021).

5 Anglican Consultative Council (ACC 17), Hong Kong, 2019. Available at: https://www.anglicancommunion.org/structures/instruments-of-communion/acc/acc-17.aspx (accessed 3 February 2021).

6 Mark Oxbrow, ‘Intentional Discipleship – Catalysing Change’, 2019. Available at: https://www.anglicannews.org/blogs/2020/02/intentional-discipleship-catalysing-change.aspx (accessed 3 February 2021).

7 Jennifer Strawbridge (ed.), The First Letter of Peter: A Global Commentary (London: SCM Press, Kindle edn, 2020).

8 See Hans-Ruedi Weber, ‘On Being Christian in the World’ (Geneva, 7–10 May 1997), p. 6. Available at: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/education-and-ecumenical-formation/ecumenical-lay-formation/on-being-christian-in-the-world/index (accessed 18 September 2020).

9 Hans Kung, The Church (London: Search Press, 1968, 4th impression), pp. 125-27; Dorothy A. Lee, The Ministry of Women in the New Testament: Reclaiming the Biblical Vision for Church Leadership (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020), pp.11-12, 183.

10 Steven G. Ogden, The Church, Authority, and Foucault: Imagining the Church as an Open Space of Freedom (London: Routledge, 2017), pp. 3-4, 115-21, 145.

11 John Macquarrie, The Faith of the People: A Lay Theology (London: SCM Press, 1972), p. 85; Gideon Goosen, Clericalism: Stories from the Pews – A Workbook for Parishes, pp. 14, 89-91, 101-102, 107, 111, 125, 147, 160-61.

12 Yves M.J. Congar, Lay People in the Church: A Study for a Theology of the Laity (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1959), pp. 1-2; Kung, The Church, pp. 125-26.

13 Stott, One People, p. 20.

14 Kung, The Church, p. 125.

15 Stephen Charles Neill and Hans-Ruedi Weber, The Layman in Christian History (London: SCM Press, 1963), p. 30; Weber, ‘On Being Christian in the World’, p. 1.

16 Congar, Lay People in the Church, pp. 1-2.

17 Kung, The Church, p. 126; Weber, ‘On Being Christian in the World’, p. 1; Goosen, Clericalism, p. 27.

18 WCC Commission on Faith and Order, The Church: Towards a Common Vision (Faith and Order Paper No. 214; Geneva: World Council of Churches, 2013), p. 11; Alan Richardson, An Introduction to the Theology of the New Testament (London: SCM Press, 1958, 2nd impression), p. 269.

19 WCC Commission on Faith and Order, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (Faith and Order Paper No. 111; Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1982), p. 20; WCC Commission on Faith and Order, The Church, p. 11.

20 Pope Francis, ‘Pope Explains Definition of Church as “People of God”’, Catholic World News, 12 June 2013. Available at: www.catholicculture.org (accessed 28 January 2021).

21 Strawbridge, The First Letter of Peter, Loc 299, Loc 1452; Donald Senior, ‘The First Letter of Peter’, Commentary in The New Interpreter’s Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version with Apocrypha (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2003), pp. 2183-84.

22 Strawbridge, The First Letter of Peter, Loc 1388.

23 Strawbridge, The First Letter of Peter, Loc 1715.

24 Strawbridge, The First Letter of Peter, Loc 1737.

25 Mollie Batten, ‘Laymen in Society’, in Archbishop of Canterbury (ed.), Lambeth Essays on Ministry (London: SPCK, 1969), pp. 17-29.

26 Hendrick Kraemer, A Theology of the Laity (London: Lutterworth Press, 1958).

27 Kathleen Bliss, We the People: A Book about Laity (London: SCM Press, 1963). pp. 76-77; John A.T. Robinson, ‘The Ministry of the Laity’, in Layman’s Church (London: Lutterworth Press, 1963), pp. 9-22; Simon Phipps, God on Monday (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1966); Stott, One People; Macquarrie, The Faith of the People of God; Board of Education, All Are Called: Towards a Theology of the Laity (London: CIO Publishing, 1985); Board of Education, Called to New Life: The World of Lay Discipleship (London: Church House Publishing, 1999; 2nd impression, 2000).

28 God’s People on Man’s Journey, Proceedings of the Third World Congress for the Lay Apostolate, Volume 1 (Rome: Permanent Committee for International Congresses of the Lay Apostolate, 1967). Volumes 2 and 3 also available.

29 Weber, ‘On Being Christian in the World’, pp. 4-5.

30 Evanston Speaks, Reports from the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches, August 15-31 (London: SCM Press, 1954), pp. 99-115; New Delhi Report, The Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches (London: SCM Press, 1961), pp. 202-207.

31 Walter M. Abbott and Joseph Gallagher (eds.), The Documents of Vatican II (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1966), pp. 24-25.

32 Abbott and Gallagher, The Documents of Vatican II, p. 57; Goosen, Clericalism, pp. 111, 117-18.

33 Abbott and Gallagher, The Documents of Vatican II, p. 487.

34 Goosen, Clericalism, pp. 95, 103, 105, 111, 126.

35 Lambeth Conference 1968, Resolutions and Reports (London: SPCK/New York: Seabury Press, 1968), p. 93.

36 Lambeth Conference 1968, p. 93.

37 Lambeth Conference 1958, The Encyclical Letter from the Bishops together with the Resolutions and Reports (London: SPCK/New York: Seabury Press, 1958), p. 113.

38 Lambeth Conference 1978, The Report of the Lambeth Conference 1978 (London: CIO Publishing), pp. 82-83.

39 Lambeth Conference 1988, The Truth Shall Make You Free (London: Church House Publishing 1988), p. 44.

40 Lambeth Conference 1998, The Official Report (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing 1998), p. 403.

41 James M. Rosenthal and Nicola Currie (eds.) Being Anglican in the Third Millennium: Official Report of the 10th Meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, Panama (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1996), pp. 151-60.

42 Rosenthal and Currie (eds.) Being Anglican in the Third Millennium, p. 153.

43 ACC Zambia, ‘Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-Making’, p. 5; Lee, The Ministry of Women in the New Testament, pp. 16-17.

44 WCC Commission on Faith and Order, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, p. 21; WCC Commission on Faith and Order, The Church, p. 12; John Collins, Are All Christians Ministers? (Melbourne: E.J. Dwyer, 1992), pp. 18-19, 35-40; Charles Sherlock, Australian Anglicans Worship Performing APBA (Victoria: Broughton Publishing, 2020), pp. 234, 404, 406.

45 Board of Education, All Are Called, pp. 3, 5; WCC Commission on Faith and Order, The Church, pp. 11-12.

46 Neill and Weber, The Layman in Christian History.

47 William Temple, Christianity and the Social Order (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, repr. 1956 [1942]), p. 27.

48 Mark Gibbs and T. Ralph Morton, God’s Frozen People: A Book for – and about – Ordinary Christians (London: Fontana Books, 3rd impression, 1964), pp. 9-15.

49 Gibbs and Morton, God’s Frozen People, pp. 20-21.

50 Mark Gibbs and T. Ralph Morton, God’s Lively People (London: Fontana Books, 1971), pp. 6-7.

51 Scott Cowdell, God’s Next Big Thing: Discovering the Future Church (Victoria, Australia: John Garratt Publishing, 2004), pp. 152-87.

52 Cowdell, God’s Next Big Thing, p. 187.

53 Weber, ‘On Being Christian in the World’, pp. 1-2.

54 The Book of Common Prayer (The Episcopal Church, USA: The Church Hymnal Corporation and Seabury Press, 1979), p. 855.

55 A New Zealand Prayer Book (Auckland, The Church of the Province of New Zealand: William Collins Publishers, 1989), p. 931.

56 A New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 932.

57 A Prayer Book for Australia: The Anglican Church of Australia (Alexandria, NSW: Broughton Books, 1995), p. 795.

58 The Board of Education, All Are Called, p. 10; Michael Oh, ‘An Apology to the Christian 99%, from the 1%’, Christianity Today, 13 June 2019. Available at: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/june-web-only/apology-christian-99-1-percent-lausanne-gwf-michael-oh.html (accessed 24 August 2020). Michael Oh is Global Executive Director and CEO of the Lausanne Movement.

59 A Prayer Book for Australia, pp. 142-44.

60 Sherlock, Australian Anglicans Worship Performing APBA, pp. 224-34.

61 Sherlock, Australian Anglicans Worship Performing APBA, p. 234.

62 A Prayer Book for Australia, p. 144.

63 Sherlock, Australian Anglicans Worship Performing APBA, pp. 293-94.

64 Alan Nichols (ed.), Building Mission-Shaped Church in Australia (Sydney: General Synod, 2006), p. 1.

65 Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary (Australia: Oxford University Press, 2009, 5th edn).

66 Weber, ‘On Being Christian in the World’, p. 1.

67 Board of Education, Called to New Life, p. 14; Charles Sherlock, Performing the Gospel in Liturgy and Lifestyle (Victoria, Australia: Broughton Publishing, rev. edn, 2018 [2017]), pp. 78-82.

68 Consultation on Laity/Laos, ‘Towards a Common Understanding of Laity/Laos: Consultation Statement’ (World Council of Churches, 1977), p. 4. Available at: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/education-and-ecumenical-formation/ecumenical-lay-formation/towards-a-common-understanding-of-laitylaos-consultation-statement (accessed 21 September 2020); Norma Cook Everist, The Church as Learning Community: A Comprehensive Guide to Christian Education (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002), p. 294.

69 Goosen, Clericalism, pp. 27, 53.

70 Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (London: Penguin Random House, 1970), pp. 61-97.

71 Richard Giles, How to Be Anglican: A Beginners Guide to Anglican Life and Thought (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2005, 2nd impression), pp. 48-49; Thomas John Harvard Littleton, ‘Enhanced Faith Learning in Parishes’, Thesis (DM), Adelaide College of Divinity, South Australia, 2016, pp. 59-60. Available at: https://www.tjhlittleton.com (accessed 4 August 2021).

72 Goosen, Clericalism, p. 120.

73 Littleton, ‘Enhanced Faith Learning in Parishes’; John Littleton, Enhance Learning in Parishes: A Learning Community Approach for Church Congregations (Unley, Adelaide: MediaCom Education, 2017), pp. 13-17; John Littleton, ‘Enhanced Learning in the Parish Context: A Learning Community Approach’, Practical Theology 11.4 (2018), pp. 322-23. Findings from the faith learning research project conducted in the Anglican Diocese of Adelaide, 2013–14 (227 people from 45 parishes) demonstrated that a learning community approach enhanced faith learning in parishes. Research participants in parish learning community environments reported very much growth in their knowledge, understanding and practice of the Christian faith when the three learning community processes were intentionally practised together. For the purpose of the research project a learning community approach, customized for a parish context, was defined as ‘a visionary community of faith where leaders and members, while respecting a diversity of abilities and perspectives, practise holistic, collaborative and theologically reflective learning processes’.

74 Cowdell, God’s Next Big Thing, pp. 162-65. However, books on faith and life by authors who are ninety percenter disciples are available. For example, Julia Baird, Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder and Things that Sustain You When the World Goes Dark (Sydney: Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, 2020).

75 Mark Gibbs, Christians with Secular Power (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1981), p. 33.

76 Board of Education, All Are Called, p. 7.

77 Gibbs and Morton, God’s Frozen People, p. 62.

78 Anglican Consultative Council, Kenya, The Time Is Now (London: SPCK, 1971; Australia: GBRE, 1971), p. 33.

79 Cowdell, God’s Next Big Thing, pp. 156-57, 160-67.

80 Gibbs, Christians and Secular Power, p. 33.

81 Hartness M. Samushonga, ‘On Bivocational Ministry-focused Training in British Theological Schools: Dialoguing with British Theological Educationalists’, Practical Theology 13.4 (2020), pp. 385-99.

82 Littleton, Enhance Learning in Parishes, pp. 89-93.

83 Everist, The Church as Learning Community, pp. 257, 289-96, 317.

84 Lambeth Conference, 1968, Resolutions and Reports, pp. 102-103; Anglican Consultative Council, 1976, ACC-3 Trinidad, pp. 47-50.

85 Charles Davis, God’s Grace in History (London: Fontana Books, repr. 1967 [1966]), pp. 81-89.

86 Jeffrey W. Driver, A Polity of Persuasion: Gift and Grief of Anglicanism (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2014), p. 18.

87 Anglican Consultative Council, ACC-5, Report of Fifth Meeting, Newcastle upon Tyne (London: ACC, 1981), p. 51.

88 Driver, A Polity of Persuasion, p. 104.

89 John H. Westerhoff, Will our Children Have Faith? (Melbourne: Dove Communications, 1976), pp. 6-7, 50; (3rd rev. edn, New York: Morehouse Publishing, 2012, pp. 21-22, 141-42).

90 Littleton, ‘Enhanced Faith Learning in Parishes’, pp. 19-23.

91 Driver, A Polity of Persuasion, p. 120.

92 Driver, A Polity of Persuasion, pp. 101-105.

93 Uniting Church in Australia, A Manual for Meetings (The National Assembly, UCA: Uniting Church Press, 2015, rev. edn); Episcopal (Anglican) Diocese of Alaska, Canons, 2017, p. 7. Available at: https://www.episcopalak.org (accessed 15 February 2021). At the Convention there will be no vote by orders for any question other than the election of a bishop.

94 Strawbridge, The First Letter of Peter.

95 Strawbridge, The First Letter of Peter, Loc 716.

96 A Prayer Book for Australia, p. 144.

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